L'Abri Journals...ACGray

July 2001
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The Massanutten Kettle...


LAbri, July 21, 2001. 

If God had a refrigerator, your picture would be on it.  If He had a wallet, your photo would be in it. He sends you flowers every spring and a sunrise every morning.  Whenever you want to talk, He'll listen.  He could live anywhere in the universe, and He chose your heart. What about the Christmas gift He sent you in Bethlehem; not to mention that Friday at Calvary?   Face it, He's crazy about you.    Anonymous

These are the days of settling in to a new house and neighborhood.  How often have I lived through these times of adjustment to new quarters, new neighbors, a new environment in my long span of Air Force life, then traveling for the Red Cross and Peace Corps, making the best of each passage as time propels me onward!   A first priority was unpacking and placing things where easily found without overtaxing my memory, a challenge.  It helps to have so much less, having sold nearly all of my furniture and given away the excess to the Salvation Army.  Still, sifting through boxes of books I discover I yet have too many, so more must go so others will benefit.  Indoors, familiar remnants of my past paintings, oriental rugs, lamps, books make the new quarters home for me

                Outdoors, my world opens to familiar sights as well.  Samanthas cousins, the squirrels, scamper on my sharply sloping front lawn and around four mature white pine trees and one large oak tree.  On the other three sides of my house, a deciduous forest surrounds me.  Yet I need only to step out onto the deck to see the Blue Ridge mountains soaring on the eastern horizonthis on days when west winds have cleared the atmosphere of fog and smog.  And glorious birdsong greets me each morning. A pair of woodpeckers works simultaneously at their stiletto drilling and flit from pine to pine.  Early mornings, I hear the sounds of a train passing, with a nostalgic reminder of a long ago time when hobos came to our Kentucky back door just a few blocks from the railroad tracks and mom would fill a plate for them or offer a welcomed bowl of bean soup!  Hobos had a grapevine where the locus of hospitality was paramount to their survival; it was the 1940s equivalent of the underground railroad.

                My new venue perches on the eastern foot and southernmost tip of Massanutten mountain,  some fifty miles long,  dividing the Shenandoah Valley east from west.  So from any relief map of Virginia, the location of LAbri can be easily pinpointed.  Rock layers in this ancient volcanic Massanutten Mountain are folded downward in a "U" shape (called a syncline) which accounts for its peculiar double ridge shape with a kettle area between. An early history of Virginia (circa 1730) notes that the name Massanutten was most likely a moniker applied by the Shawnees that means Indian basket; it was so called because of a kettle valley within the Massanutten south of Strasburg (now Fort Valley) that apparently reminded them of an oblong basket.   The western side of the Massanutten faces the Alleghenies while the Eastern side faces the Blue Ridge.   It is remarkable how translucently blue those ridges are on clear days!

                Just in front of my chalet a glorious summer perennial flower garden brightens my world:  tickseed, giant coneflowers, two hybrids of gloriosa, day lilies, lambs ears, and others.  I offer thanks for the green thumbs of those who preceded me here and reap the harvest of their labor.


                Footnote:  A downpour flooded my Arbreux on the eve of settlement with the new owners.  From Nebraska came this word from my Red Cross friend, Loree:  The heavens were crying because you left Arbreux!.

  Nine requisites for contented living:

Health enough to make work
                                    a pleasure. Wealth enough to support your needs. 
Strength to battle with difficulties and overcome them. 
Grace enough to confess your sins and forsake them. 
Patience enough to toil until some good is accomplished. 
Charity enough to see some good in your neighbor.
 Love enough to move you to be useful and helpful to others. 
Faith enough to make real the things of God. 
Hope enough to remove all anxious fears concerning the future. 
                                    -Johann von Goethe


The Jesus that Paul preached reversed the method of revelation.  Hitherto it was a verbal revelation a book, a voice.  Now it was a vital revelation - a Life (capital L), a Person (capital P).  Jesus reversed the method of salvation.  Hitherto men were doing something for God; while in Jesus, God was doing something for men.  Salvation was a gift.  Jesus reversed the method of inheriting the earth.  Hitherto men tried to inherit it by conquest, by force; and here Jesus was teaching them to inherit it by meekness, by receptivity.  The earth belongs to those who know how to inherit it by meekly learning its secrets and obeying its laws the meek. 

E. Stanley Jones